Enloe caregiver with vaccineExploring COVID Vaccines

Enloe’s Chief Medical Officer Shares Insight

Once hard to come by, COVID-19 vaccines are now available in several North State pharmacies and community clinics — and they’re available to more folks. Minors ages 12 and up are now eligible. But that hasn’t reduced the number of questions people have about the vaccinations, their effectiveness and what they mean for the community. We sat down with Marcia Nelson, M.D., Enloe’s Chief Medical Officer, to get some common questions answered.

Q: Why is it important to get vaccinated?
A: The COVID vaccine is our best hope to get out of this pandemic. We have already seen that the virus is not a seasonal illness. It races through unvaccinated communities in every season, in all age groups and carries a much higher death rate than illnesses like the flu.

The vaccines are highly effective and extremely safe. Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of getting COVID-19 and its severe complications.

Q: Do I still need to get vaccinated if I had COVID-19?
A: Research shows there is some protection after a person has had COVID-19, but we don’t know how long that will last. Studies of people who have had COVID-19 show they got re-infected with COVID at about one-fifth the rate of people who had no prior infection. But they still are at more risk of getting COVID than a person who receives the COVID vaccine.


 The COVID vaccine is our best hope to get out of this pandemic. We have already seen that the virus is not a seasonal illness."

Q: How do I know these vaccines are safe?
A: Approved COVID vaccines rely on newer scientific advances. It used to take years to create and test a vaccine. But because science has come so far, we can, in a matter of weeks, isolate the genetic material of an infection-causing virus and use it to create precise, targeted vaccines that are more effective than many of those in the past.

The Food and Drug Administration requires strict testing of vaccines before it gives the OK to use them in the general public. The vaccines in use have been tested all over the world, in men and women of all ages, and of different ethnicities.

Well-respected physician groups encourage pregnant or breastfeeding women to get the COVID vaccine. They also support adolescents to get the vaccines approved for those 12 and older.

Q: Can I pick the type of vaccine I’ll receive?
A: When you sign up to get your vaccine, you will choose which vaccine to receive. The vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one. The best rule of thumb is to get the vaccine that is available and appropriate for your age. They are all safe and effective.

Q: Is it safe to vaccinate my child? Should I talk to my doctor?
A: It’s always a great idea to talk to your doctor or your child’s physician if you have questions about COVID-19 and the vaccines. Your doctor knows about your complete medical health and will be sure you get the information you need. Again, well-respected physician groups support vaccinating eligible adolescents.


 If you’re vaccinated, tell your friends and family you’ve had your vaccine. By you going first and getting your vaccine, you just may influence someone else to do the same."

Q: Why do some people have side effects?
A: Side effects mean that your body is gearing up to be able to fight off the infection if you ever encounter it. Some people don’t have any side effects, but they will still be protected.

Q: What are the side effects? How long do they last?
A: Side effects include soreness or redness on the arm where you got the shot, or throughout your body. You may also experience fatigue, fever, chills, nausea and aching. The frequency of side effects varies by age and is more likely after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Most of the time, the side effects are mild and can be managed at home. They usually go away after a few days.

Q: Do I have to wear a mask once I’m vaccinated?
A: It depends. On June 15, California relaxed many of its COVID-19 rules. If you’re fully vaccinated, you can get together indoors or outdoors with other fully vaccinated people and not wear masks. You can also gather unmasked with unvaccinated people from a single household who aren’t at high risk for severe COVID-19.

In health care facilities, masks are still required, even for those who are fully vaccinated.

Q: What else can I do to help slow the spread of COVID-19?
A: Continue following local, state, and federal guidance when gathering with others and wearing your mask. If you’re vaccinated, tell your friends and family you’ve had your vaccine. By you going first and getting your vaccine, you just may influence someone else to do the same.

Q: Is there anything else I should know?
A: You are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after you receive the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. If you get the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, be sure to get the second dose. The protection against COVID-19 is even better after the second dose and it may produce longer-lasting protection.

To schedule your vaccine, visit myturn.ca.gov.

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